Updated 09/03/2012 08:40 PM
Democrats need to prove Obama has made country better in last four years
At last week's Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney told voters to consider whether or not they are better off now than they were four years ago. For President Obama to win re-election, the Democrats will either need to convince voters that the answer is yes or change the conversation altogether. Grace Rauh examines the challenge Democrats are facing.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For a gathering all about the message, things are off to a rocky start. Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland, a Democrat, caused a stir on Sunday when he said the country was not better off now than it was four years ago. He later walked back the remarks, but the damage was already done.
It is exactly that kind of moment that the Democrats are hoping to avoid this week at the party's national convention. They will try to keep gaffes and off-message talk to a minimum and keep the focus on President Obama.
“The country is doing better than it was the day he was elected. And we have to keep that historical perspective in context for voters,” former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said.
Holding their convention after the Republicans has some advantages. Democrats watched Clint Eastwood bomb on stage in Tampa. Some Republicans, like the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, are still cringing.
“It is one of those things that lingers. It is like the wound that won't heal,” said former RNC Chair Michael Steele.
Democrats also heard the criticism lobbed at Republican speakers who spent too much time talking about themselves and not enough time talking about Mitt Romney. They will surely be working to avoid the same mistakes.
Steele said, “You do see what your opponents are doing and you do have, in one instance, a chance to respond.”
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, says it will be important for Democrats to correct the record, after a week in which the Republican messages dominated the national discussion.
Rendell said, “The polls show some people are falling for the lies the Republicans told about Medicare.”
Rendell also says the President needs to tell voters, in detail, his plan to revive the economy.
Of course, no matter how successful the Democrats are at getting their message out this week, there is one big X factor looming over the convention. On Friday morning, the latest jobs numbers will come out. They have the potential to cut through the lofty rhetoric of the week and bring the celebration to an abrupt close.